The South West Coast Path in Great Britain is one of my favourite long-distance hiking trails in the world. You hike between southern English charm and the rough waves of the Atlantic, over steep cliffs and along beautiful sandy beaches. Although many stretches are quite wild and remote, a café with a cream tea is never too far away.
I got to know the route well during my three-month hike through Great Britain. A year later, I came back to explore the Jurassic Coast in six stages.
The Jurassic Coast is a 150-kilometre (93-mile) stretch of coastline along the Channel in southern England. In 2001, it became the first landscape in England to be given UNESCO World Heritage status. The Jurassic Coast offers an insight into the earth’s history – the oldest rocks are up to 250 million years old! Apart from the impressive cliffs, the Jurassic Coast is especially famous for its rock formations such as the famous Durdle Door. Of course, you can hunt for fossils here too.
At 1,014 kilometres (630 miles) in length, the South West Coast Path, which runs along the entire Jurassic Coast, is the longest of the British long-distance hiking trails. In total, it stretches from Minehead on the north coast of Somerset to South Haven Point in Dorset, staying close to the coastline most of the way. The trail is well marked throughout and is usually well maintained, but there are some rocky, muddy or slippery passages. The biggest challenge on the South West Coast Path is probably the frequent, and sometimes steep, ascent and descents. You also shouldn’t underestimate the weather as sudden changes can occur at any time. Don’t forget to pack your warm and rainproof clothing, even on a beautiful summer day.
Theoretically, the South West Coast Path can be hiked all year round, but some accommodation and refreshment stops may be closed in the low season. On the other hand, you can then often enjoy the path all to yourself.
You can find more tips for hiking on the South West Coast Path on my blog.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
I was taken aback by the morning view of the map: About half of the stage seemed to lead through forested areas, which is quite unusual for the SWCP. I prepared myself for a few monotonous hours in a green tunnel, but should quickly be taught otherwise. As soon as I entered the Axmouth to Lyme Regis Undercliff National Nature Reserve, I felt like I was on a trekking safari in the Borneo jungle! And if an orangutan had suddenly swung past a liana in front of me - I wouldn't have been surprised. For a few hours there was only me and the gnarled trees and green ferns and the beetles and the birds and (...). This wild paradise ended shortly before the coastal town of Lyme Regis, which incidentally is a result of landslides and today an undisturbed habitat of a rare fauna and flora.
The view of the Golden Cap should unfortunately be denied to me because dense early fog blocked every view. But after three days of sunshine he gave the coast and the Coast Path a completely new face. And as beautiful as I find the sun and the wide views here on the coast - I love this very special atmosphere that only coastal fog can create.Besides, I was actually targeting completely different rocks today. Because for me as a fan of the English crime series "Broadchurch", the cliffs of West Bay were pretty high on my wish list. The way there was lined with countless woolly sheep with not so woolly, but rather freshly hatched baby sheep! One hatched so freshly that it was still completely wet and could hardly stay on its feet, let alone knew that it shouldn't be looking for milk between the front legs of the ewe.
After a few comfortable kilometers over green farmland you can reach the "Fleet Lagoon" from Abbotsbury - a 13 km long paradise for water birds and their observers. This lagoon follows the Coast Path to Ferry Bridge and Weymouth. From here, the hiking trail actually circles the entire Isle of Portland, from whose special limestone famous buildings such as Saint Paul’s Cathedral or the British Museum in London were built. I skipped this stage around the island to make it to one of the most beautiful bays in the UK on the next and last day of my hike.